Hong Kong shares post first gain in three days, China still tepid

Wed Nov 7, 2012 4:03am EST

* HSI +0.7 pct, H-shares +0.7 pct, CSI300 -0.2 pct

* HK turnover highest this week, Shanghai stays weak

* HK property, HKEx lead reversal after Obama election win

* SAIC Motor Corp buck A-share weakness after Oct sales impress

By Clement Tan

HONG KONG, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares reversed midday losses on Wednesday after U.S. President Barack Obama was re-elected, producing their first gain in three days, with local developers strong on hopes that greater fund inflows would support property prices in the city.

The Hang Seng Index closed up 0.7 percent at 22,099.9 in its strongest turnover of the week, creeping back towards its 2012 closing high of 22,111.3 recorded last Friday. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong also rose 0.7 percent.

The Shanghai Composite Index finished flat, while the CSI300 Index of the top Shanghai and Shenzhen listings slipped 0.2 percent, its third-straight drop. Shanghai volume sank to its lowest in more than a week.

"There's been a fair amount of waiting in the market this week. I think investors will come back into the Hong Kong market in a bigger way after more clarity emerges from the Congress meeting in Beijing next week," said Edward Huang, equity strategist at Haitong Securities International.

China's 18th Communist Party congress will introduce a new generation of leaders. It opens on Thursday and closes on Nov 14.

On Wednesday, gains for Hong Kong developers picked up after Obama won a second term, spurring expectations that a weaker U.S. dollar will trigger more inflows into the Chinese territory that could support property prices that have already more than doubled from a 2008 trough.

Sun Hung Kai Properties rose 2.1 percent, completely recovering gains from a 5.1 percent slump on Oct 29 after the Hong Kong government imposed fresh curbs on the home sales aimed at cooling foreign demand.

Rival New World Development jumped 3.2 percent, retracing about 75 percent of its 6.4 percent fall on Oct. 29. It is still up 104 percent in 2012, compared to the 20 percent gain for the Hang Seng Index.

In a report on Wednesday, released before the U.S. election was called for Obama, Goldman Sachs analysts upgraded their view on the Hong Kong property sector despite the government's latest cooling efforts.

"With the market expecting the low interest rate environment to continue, we may see more prospective homebuyers front-loading their home purchases, which would likely create more upward pressure on prices," they said in the report.

Bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges, another favourite inflows play, rose 1.9 percent to near a seven-month high recorded on Monday after it posted better-than-expected third-quarter earnings.

A-SHARES STAY WEAK AHEAD OF PARTY CONGRESS

On the mainland, markets remained weak ahead of the once-in-a-decade political transition at the Congress meeting.

The Chinese banking and property sector were major drags after the official Financial News newspaper, run by China's central bank, reported that bad loan ratios at the country's top banks may triple by the end of the year.

The report, which cited Orient Asset Management Corp, among the four firms charged with cleaning up bad debts at China's banks, implicated sectors ranging from the country's steel sectors to local governments and property developers.

The Shanghai property sub-index was an underperformer among sectors in the mainland, down 1 percent, with Poly Real Estate down 1.7 percent. Shenzhen-listed China Vanke shed 1.2 percent.

But Hong Kong-listed Evergrande bucked weakness in the sector, jumping 9.3 percent to its highest close since mid-July, in its best day in 5-1/2 months, after posting strong October contract sales, which Deutsche Bank analysts said was a record high for the company.

Strength in automakers also limited losses in mainland markets.

Warren Buffet-backed BYD Co Ltd surged 10.6 percent in Hong Kong and 4.7 percent in Shenzhen, with analysts citing rumors that the company could benefit from new measures supporting clean energy vehicles in China.

SAIC Motor Corp rose 2.5 percent in Shanghai after posting a 20.7 percent rise in October auto sales from a year earlier, faster than its 4.6 percent growth in September.

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